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Newspaper group harassed for denouncing corruption

(CEPET/IFEX) - The "Síntesis" newspapers, which are published in Puebla, Hidalgo and Tlaxcala, have come under attack by the former director of the National Free Books Committee (Comisión Nacional de Libros Gratuitos, CONALITEG), Jorge Velasco y Felix. The harassment is presumably linked to a "Síntesis" investigative report accusing Velasco y Felix of corruption.

In a press release published in "Proceso" magazine, the Mexican Publishers' Association, which is made up of more than 150 publications including "Síntesis", criticized Velasco y Felix for launching a defamation campaign against the newspaper group and its president, Armando Prida Huerta. Moreover, Velasco y Felix was accused of colluding with members of former president Vicente Fox's government and causing tax problems for the publishers of "Síntesis".

"Síntesis" had reported that Velasco y Felix was involved in irregularities connected to the "Vamos México" foundation, headed by Fox's wife. Apparently, 1.5 million copies of a book that the former first lady was promoting were "donated" to the foundation. A number of high-ranking government officials were allegedly also involved in the transaction.

CONALITEG distributes millions of free books to primary and secondary schools. These are books it has published itself or has acquired from other sources.

A series of investigations by the Attorney General's Office led to a call for the arrest of Velasco y Felix and his collaborators. However, the judge in charge of the case has still not issued an arrest warrant.

President Felipe Calderón recently announced the creation of a special defense committee for journalists who are harassed by government officials. In its press release, the Mexican Publishers' Association asked President Calderón to intervene in the "Síntesis" case.

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